Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kemp and Puig won't see fastballs all postseason

Friday night belonged to the Dodgers' "B" team, as Edinson Volquez pitched well into the seventh, but the offense consisting of names like Tim Federowicz, Chili Buss, and Alex Castellanos did squat in losing 2-0.

All of the big names got the night off, as not one position featured a guy who will start in Game 1 of the Division Series.

Something that I did find interesting, though, was the last two outs of the game.  Skip Schumaker, who got his first and probably last start hitting third, doubled off of Huston Street leading off.  After Scott Van Slyke grounded out, Don Mattingly unleashed some of those big dogs to pinch-hit.  It started with Adrian Gonzalez, who singled for runners on the corners.

Then came Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, who no doubt were thinking one thing and one thing only: hit the thing clear out of the park.  Did it happen?

Uh, no.  Slider after slider after slider struck them both out swinging.  In fact, they didn't even do so much as make contact at any point.  As Street point out after the game, neither guy is used to pinch-hitting.  But still...

It got me thinking about the opposing pitchers' strategy against these two come October.  It's pretty obvious: feed them sliders, and don't put a fastball anywhere close to the plate.  Both guys might hang themselves if pitchers stick to that plan.

And with that, Puig and Kemp will have to show some patience and not try to crush the ball on every swing, ala Friday night in San Diego.  They might have to become the ultimate mistake pitch hitters, because pitchers would be crazy to challenge them with fastballs in the zone.  That wouldn't make any sense.

While I can't imagine Mattingly running out a lineup like this every game, I do think it'll feature a mixture of his regular guys, followed by plenty of pinch-hitting chances like they saw in this one.  So I'm sure Puig and Kemp will get more chances at redemption in the late innings.  They just better be prepared for pitch after pitch bending outside the zone.

And they also have to accept that a walk isn't such a bad thing either.

No comments: